Thomas informed the Bruins last June that he would sit out the 2012-2013 season to spend more time with his family. Last week, Chiarelli spoke with Thomas' agent, Bill Zito, and was told that the goalie still is going to sit out the season, but wants to play next season, though it was unclear if that meant he would consider returning to the Bruins.
"We'll end up suspending him and we want to do it in a non-adversarial way," Chiarelli said. "I've talked to the agent and we'll agree to some type of set of facts and remedies and that'll be it. So he will be on our cap, unless I trade him."
Because the Bruins signed Thomas to a guaranteed contract after the age of 35, he will still count against their salary cap even if he's suspended and the Bruins don't have to pay him.
"With the floor as it is, $44 million for this year, there's probably not the opportunity to move him to a team that needs to get to the floor, so it's a bit of a standstill. He's on our cap and he'll be suspended."
According to NHL rules, players have until 10 a.m. ET Monday to join their respective teams, but Chiarelli knows Thomas is not showing up.
"Tim's not going to show up and he's told us he's not playing for the year, but he wants to play next year," Chiarelli said.
Thomas is leaving $5 million on the table since he's not playing this season. If Chiarelli tries to trade him, it may not be until the April 3 trade deadline. If the Bruins decided to keep him, Chiarelli does have the ability to toll the contract, which means when the current contract expires they could require Thomas to give the team another year under the same terms.
Chiarelli said it's too early to tell if that would be an option next season.
Meanwhile, Chiarelli is hopeful Tuukka Rask will be ready to take over as No. 1 goalie for the Bruins.
"We've always had a succession plan for handing the reigns over to him when it's time, maybe a year early from my perspective, but it's close enough that we're happy where he is in his development," Chiarelli said.